Top 5 Thanksgiving Traditions

Jessica Seftel

People have anticipated all year long for Thanksgiving to finally arrive. Stomachs are growling at the sight of turkey in the store windows, and pie recipes are spread out across the table. The airports are welcoming and saying goodbye to those who are joining relatives for the holiday, and the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is gearing up to make its grand appearance. In addition to mouth-watering foods and exciting events, the Thanksgiving holiday has a few traditions that have remained with the family.

In the United States, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621 to celebrate a successful harvest in the new land. The celebration was based on harvest traditions that the colonists brought with them, and those traditions have been carried on until present day.

1From the Pilgrims first Thanksgiving to today’s turkey burgers, this choice of poultry is an American tradition that has been around for centuries. The National Turkey Federation is the national advocate for all segments of the industry. Regional twists offer variations on the traditional roasted bird, including coffee-rubbed turkey from Hawaii, salt-encrusted turkey from New England, and deep-fried turkey from the South.

It’s common on the Thanksgiving holiday for people to gather together including family members from immediate family to third and fourth-cousins that are hardly remembered at one time or another.

2 That brings us to our second holiday tradition, National Football League competition. The first NFL Thanksgiving Day game played was in 1934 between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears, played at the University of Detroit stadium. Fans across the nation tuned in to 94 stations across the nation to enjoy the game on the radio, courtesy of the NBC radio network. The Thanksgiving match aired on television for the first time in 1956. As football has become more popular, there are now more games on Thanksgiving Day, becoming a huge tradition. It’s no surprise when most of the fans head right for the television as soon as they enter the door. This year’s game offers a battle of the birds, as the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Arizona Cardinals.

3 The number three Thanksgiving tradition on the list has become popular from state to state. Dating back to the first Thanksgiving Parade in 1924, it was started by Louis Bamberger in Newark, N.J. at the Bamberger’s store, and was transferred to New York by Macy’s. In New York, the employees paraded to Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street dressed in vibrant costumes. Here in California, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is celebrated in New York. It’s an annual event of gigantic human-tethered balloons, bands and floats, enjoyed by more than 46 million people each in person and on television.

4Not only does the Thanksgiving turkey provide mouth-watering tastes, but a lucky bone, the wishbone, which every family fights to win over. If you believe your wish will come true when succeeding to win the break in a wishbone contest, then you’re following in the footsteps of civilization. According to Elizabeth Peck, author of The History of Thanksgiving in the United States, “The Etruscans of 322 B.C., the Romans brought the tradition with them when they conquered England and the English colonists carried the tradition on to America.”

5 Last, but certainly not least, Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for the people and blessings of the past year, and celebrating the gifts of life, love, and joy. From prayers to providing holiday meals to the homeless, the holiday is truly a celebration of praise and thanksgiving. Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us.

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